with Nina Parmenter:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Nina: I wrote light poetry as a teenager, influenced of course by Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan. But other than that, until my forties I really had little interest in poetry, particularly anything, god forbid, “serious”!
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Nina: At the moment, I’m suckering up poetry like a hungry octopus and being influenced by everything I read. I’m all new and eager. Most influential things I’ve read in the last twelve months are probably “The Air Year” by Caroline Bird and “Crucifox” by Geraldine Clarkson both for their joyful eccentricity; “Paper Aeroplanes” by Simon Armitage because of what that man can do with wordplay and rhyme and half-rhyme, “And After All” by Rhina P Espaillat because of her effortlessness with form, and “Menagerie” by Cheryl Pearson because of her wonderful playful imagery. But there are so many more I’ve enjoyed.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Nina: I’ve noticed that when I set poems in a place, that place is almost always in Somerset (in South West England) where I grew up, or Wiltshire where I live now (next to Somerset!) I’m reasonably well travelled, but nowhere except home seems to make it into my poems. I imagine that tells you something about me.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Nina: I almost always think that the last good poem I wrote is my best. Also, that it will be my last good poem! In terms of “meaningful”, I will often put my more troubled or challenging thoughts slantways into a surreal poem rather than addressing them directly. From a selfish point of view, I find that better therapy than going into a lot of detail; for the reader, they’re there if you need or want to find them. But I think fun and surprise and intrigue are important too. They are the things that bring us to life.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Nina: I don’t remember a specific moment; I always knew I could write, I just didn’t think it was a thing people like me did. I hit my forties and there ere a couple of factors that pushed me towards writing – I wanted to give my inner narrative something to do except worrying, and I wanted to do something that was “me”. I cut my teeth by writing light poetry and posting it on a community site, Poetry Soup. People there were really encouraging which prompted me to explore some different forms, types and styles. Then I realised that to write decent poetry I should also, you know, READ some poetry and that’s when I started to really diversify. (I do still love light poetry though.)
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Nina: I’d love to reel off an intriguing list of pastimes but the fact is, I’m a working mum, and writing is the main thing I squeeze round other stuff for pleasure! Then there’s a teeny bit of space left for reading, singing, walking and friends and family.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Nina: I’ve just moved my blog across to ninaparmenter.com and you can WordPress-follow it now or follow it via Facebook at Facebook.com/parmenterpoetry. The blog was previously at itallrhymes.com but this became problematic when I started writing a lot of poems that didn’t… rhyme! I’ve also got a couple of appearances coming up in anthologies – in Hedgehog Poetry’s “Looking Out, Peering In” and Dreich’s “Summer Anywhere” anthology.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Nina: There’s a poem I wrote a few years ago called “Ease in the Ether” where I imagine myself rising above reality. It has this little phrase I love: “Far above the flick-flack of tongues / and the dull tug of duty / I cruise the dewy sky-trails / watching the pedestrians / lessen.”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Nina: Oh my goodness, lots of people – the majority of them being people I’ve never met in real life! People on Twitter have been amazing – I put out a plea for a couple of people to look at some work a few weeks ago, and so many kind people responded and gave me such useful feedback. Next step is to join a real life workshop where I actually have to look people in the eye – because my poetry only really took off last year, there just hasn’t been the opportunity to do that yet. I need to re-socialise myself first though!
Bio: Nina Parmenter is a poet and Mum from Wiltshire, UK. She has appeared in numerous journals including Ink, Sweat & Tears, Snakeskin, Light, Better Than Starbucks and The Lyric, and is a contributor to the Potcake Chapbooks series. In 2021, she won Hedgehog Poetry’s ‘Looking Out, Peering In’ contest, and was nominated for the Forward Prize. Her job that pays her actual money is in marketing.